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SOFIA Platform Interface System Team Successfully Completes Upgrade and Engineering Lineops
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SOFIA Platform Interface System Team Successfully Completes Upgrade and Engineering Lineops

The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Platform Interface System (PIS) team completed the latest PIS2 beta release, which was installed on the aircraft for the first time and tested on the line by a SOFIA Mission Director, Telescope Operator, and the Integrations Team. Per the SOFIA Flash Report L110 filed by the Mission Director, “It was a very successful night with all planned tests completed and finished early. Completed tests include: blind pointing, point-and-stare with rewinds, four corners, chop rotation, tweak-with-nod, scanning, symmetric chop-nod, chop perpendicular-to-nod, asymmetric chop-and-dither, 15-point dither, non-sidereal chop scanning, fast data rate Lissajous, and simplified maneuvers using reference frames. Furthermore, ran performance tests by loading the system and experienced no slowdowns or software crashes. Midway through the line op, a new PIS2 build was compiled and uploaded to fix bugs discovered early on.”

By completing this major milestone the development team demonstrated to operators, support personnel, and program engineering staff that PIS2 is much more capable than the existing legacy software system, easily supporting much higher data rates, command loads, and operator requests while operating diverse observatory systems on the night sky. Formal verification remains; however, integration with real systems and operating under flight-like conditions demonstrates to the program that high confidence in the replacement system is warranted.

BACKGROUND: The development team obtained approval and funding in December 2017 to start a 24-month effort to rewrite the existing PIS to address its stability and performance issues. PIS2 has a synchronous framework and runs on a different platform than PIS. PIS2 reached feature completion and started beta testing on April 15th. The team will continue with vigorous testing and debugging to ensure that PIS2 improves the observatory’s efficiency and maximizes the science return when it is deployed.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Program, Science Mission Directorate (SMD)

TEAM: Lee Brownston, Scott Christa, Steve Culp (Code PX), Brian Curlett (AFRC), Qi Lin, Vickie Moore, John Rasmussen, Sam Santiago, Hao Thai, May Windrem, and Bill Wohler (PX)


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